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Revisiting the Bicutan Siege: Police Use of Force in a Maximum Security Detention Center in the Philippines

NCJ Number
International Criminal Justice Review Volume: 19 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2009 Pages: 25-45
Napoleon C. Reyes; Michael S. Vaughn
Date Published
March 2009
21 pages
This article investigates the Special Action Forces of the Philippine National Police’s handling of the Bicutan siege.
The Bicutan siege was a barricade situation in a maximum security detention center in Bicutan, Taguig City, Philippines which occurred on March 15, 2005; a 300-man team of the elite Special Actions Force of the Philippine National Police (PNP-SAF) stormed the Special Intensive Care Area (SICA) building of the Metro Manila District Jail (MMDJ) to regain control of the facility after a group of detainees barricaded themselves inside. After a standoff of more than 24 hours, the police regained control of the facility; 23 detainees were dead and many others wounded. A member of the PNP-SAF was also killed. In an attempt to fully understand the Bicutan siege, three explanations are explored in this article and analyze the separate investigations by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), the news coverage of the incident, and the official statements of government officials. The evidence suggest that the Bicutan siege was a premeditated and concerted effort of the national government to eliminate identified enemies of the State (the members of the Abu Sayyaf Group or ASG) notwithstanding that they were already under government custody and were on or awaiting trial for their criminal acts. Table, notes, and references